How has legalization affected the trucking industry? Many call for a new approach.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a new report that examines specifics around how cannabis legalization has hit truck drivers and the trucking industry.
As Cannabis Wire has reported, cannabis legalization was a “top priority” for ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee last year.
In short, the tone from truckers is changing. For example, at the end of the driver survey, there was a blank box where respondents could answer if they wanted. Of those who did, more than 72% left comments “supporting a loosening of marijuana testing and laws.”
The report is far-ranging and includes broad trends and specifics on highway safety and impairment. There is also a section on “workforce implications,” including “testing implications for the truck driver shortage.”
“The federal prohibition of marijuana use by CDL holders has been highlighted as a potential disincentive for drivers to stay in the industry, and it has even been argued that loosening the restrictions on marijuana use would make the industry more attractive and widen the potential labor pool,” the report notes, adding that roughly 65,000 drivers are needed.
“While current marijuana testing is likely effective at removing drivers who may work while impaired, it also likely removes drivers who previously used the drug but would not operate a truck while impaired.”
One question even showed that respondents favor impairment testing over the current testing, which just shows the presence of cannabinoids some time in the past month or so.
The report also notes that several states now protect medical cannabis use under state law. And while cannabis’ status in Schedule I of the CSA shields employers from litigation under the ADA, that could change.
“Should marijuana be moved from the Schedule I drug designation, there could be costly legal ramifications for industry and highway safety,” the report noted.
The conclusion of the report imagines two possible federal pathways to legalized cannabis: one with ongoing federal prohibition, and one where “marijuana rules evolve toward federal legalization.”
The first scenario, the report notes, will result in ongoing “conflicts between state and federal laws and jurisdictions” that “will ostensibly increase issues for the trucking industry.”
The second scenario, including removal of cannabis from the CSA, would bring “significant issues” for the trucking industry as it would need to figure out how to measure safety. But, the report noted, “Any shift toward federal legalization would likely ease pressure on the industry’s driver shortage.”
The report calls for data collection and more federal research, as well as national standards for cannabis testing and impairment, along with employer protections for those that want to continue certain drug testing programs.
Maryland’s cannabis business assistance fund kicks off.
The Maryland Department of Commerce announced that applications have opened for the inaugural round of funding available through the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund. The fund is aimed at lifting up small businesses in the state’s cannabis industry.
“The Cannabis Business Assistance Fund will help ensure more equitable footing as our medical cannabis license holders transition to recreational marijuana use in Maryland,” Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement. “The fund promotes equitable economic growth and will empower our small, minority, and women-owned businesses to have a greater stake in this growing industry.”
The first round of funding will be to help convert existing medical cannabis businesses to the adult use industry. For example, processors could qualify for up to $50,000 in grant funding, and dispensary licensees could be awarded up to $25,000.
Licensees in areas disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis laws will be prioritized.
The next round will start Aug. 1.
CA Department of Industrial Relations “reminds” industry of labor laws.
The Department of Industrial Relations issued a release late last week that “reminds cannabis employers that they must comply with California labor law requirements” and that “protections apply to all workers in the cannabis industry, no matter whether they are employed at a licensed or unlicensed cannabis business.”
“Failure to comply,” it continues, “can result in citations for unpaid wages or civil penalties, criminal prosecution, or both.”
Context: The release doesn’t cite any particular incident, but the state has expanded its efforts on addressing labor issues ever since a Los Angeles Times series last year put a spotlight on incidents of exploitation and death among workers in the industry.
Acreage’s new CEO.
Peter Caldini will be replaced by COO Dennis Curran on July 1.
“Peter restored Acreage’s position at the forefront of the industry and equipped the business to accelerate our growth trajectory as a part of Canopy USA. On behalf of myself and the Board, we are incredibly grateful to Peter for his strong leadership throughout his time at Acreage and we wish him all the best in his future pursuits,” said Acreage chair and founder Kevin Murphy in the announcement.
Canopy Growth Corporation is currently working toward the completion of its plan to enter the U.S. via Canopy USA LLC.